The term “core” refers to the muscles of your abdomen and those of your lower back. If you picture your body and then aim for the very center you would be looking directly at your core. Core training seeks to strengthen the muscles of your abdominal and lower back using coordinated movement. A strong focus is put on contracting your abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button in toward your spine throughout the exercises to ensure that your core muscles are engaged.
It’s not just about how you look
Training your core will result in tremendous benefits in a relatively short amount of time. This is because a strong core improves your posture, decreases your chance of injury, increases your power and functionality, and gives you a great-looking lean midsection. The complaints that stem stem from having weak core muscles include lower back pain, poor posture, being injury prone, having minimal strength and an inability to get control of your waistline. One of the activities that stresses our bodies the most is not what you would expect; it’s staying in a sitting position for long periods of time. This of course is unavoidable for most people who commute to work, sit at a desk, and relax and watch TV on the couch, so most of us. One way to combat the degeneration caused by too much sitting is a workout regimen including core strength but also substituting your chair for a workout ball or standing at your desk can be helpful.
Exercises that strengthen your core
Pelvic Tilt – Lie on floor with knees bent, feet parallel and arms to the side
- Tighten lower abdominal muscles, pulling the navel and lower back toward the floor, without using buttocks or leg muscles
- Hold for 5 seconds
- 5-10 repetitions
Trunk Curl – Lie on floor with knees bent and arms crossed on the chest
- Using upper abdominal muscles, raise trunk of body off the floor slightly, to about 15 degrees
- Hold 5 seconds
- Lower trunk slowly to the floor.
To be effective, motion should raise the chest, rather than the head or neck, and only be only a slight lift. Rising too far, to a sitting position, works leg muscles not the abdominals.
Water Exercise/Leg Lifts – Stand in the pool next to the side wall with one hand on the edge
- Raise one straight leg slowly to the front
- Lower slowly to the starting position
- 5 repetitions per leg
Supporting your core with a healthy diet
Simple, natural sources of protein are the best source of fuel for your body. These sources of natural protein are found around the edges of the grocery store with absolutely no need to go into the center isles. Look for whole cuts of meat from the meat case, milk, deli meats and cheeses, and eggs and beans from the bulk containers. For vegetables, if you can support a local farmer by getting them from a nearby farm or farmer’s market you should. If you cannot get your fruits and vegetables from these sources then the produce section at your local grocery store followed by fresh frozen vegetables and fruits are your best options. Frozen vegetables are a better choice then canned vegetables that are often treated with salt and sugar. That being said, a canned green bean is still recognizable as a green bean and is a better choice than some processed foods. It is all about making the best choices possible with the money and resources you have available.